News of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Pittsburgh area, counsel from its leaders, and reflections from its members.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Lessons from an Ice Storm

In Backwoods Home Magazine Anita Evangelista shares "Lessons Learned from an Ice Storm"—the recent ice storm that took out electrical power throughout much of New England. She records her own family's experiences, confirms the importance of preparedness and home storage, and gives practical advice on how to weather the storm.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Barack Obama and Smoking Cessation

An Associated Press article by Jocelyn Noveck, "Anti-smoking groups hope Obama will be role model," reports:

"Anti-smoking advocates are counting on Obama as a role model for others trying to kick the habit . . . a former smoker who says he's quit, but admittedly falls off the wagon—is potentially 'the ultimate teachable moment.'

"Obama has done a lot right, [including] using nicotine replacement, in the form of Nicorette. Those using the gum are 1 1/2 times more likely to quit.

"Even more important, Obama keeps trying." The article reports that typical smokers make between four and eleven attempts before they're able to quit.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Moral Inventory

Last night's Addiction Recovery Program in-service training meeting included 38 participants from the Michigan and Pittsburgh PA Welfare Regions and Brother George McPhee of Boston, who helped write step 4 of the program, on making a "searching and fearless written moral inventory." Brother Kirk Lillrose took the following excellent minutes of the meeting:

Opening Prayer: Amanda Anderson
Conducting: Gordon Fletcher

Bishop Mark Scofield, Dearborn Ward – shared comments from his experiences conducting meetings over the past few weeks for someone who had been called back to work. Initially went in with attitude of wanting to help others change, but over the course of time learned that it was a program to help myself look inward, a program of change. Big concern from the start was that if I show weaknesses as a Bishop, it would make me less effective as a Bishop and members would lose confidence in me. But what I found was just the opposite; I’ve found that I am more effective in working with others. I plan to continue to attend meetings for myself personally whether or not I’m serving as bishop.

Introduction of George McPhee and discussion of Step 4 – Truth

Basic overview of the entire program and introduction of PowerPoint presentation
5 things everyone should know
• AA origins are the Bible
• Fellowship of AA is not the program that this was for
• First 11 of 12 steps actually = the 1st principles of the gospel
• Correlation Review Committee Final report on “ A Guide to Addiction Recovery & Healing”
• Benefits of local priesthood leaders
Steps 1 -3 of the program = faith in Jesus Christ
Steps 4-11 = repentance
Step 12 = service and enduring to the end

Benefits to local priesthood leaders
• Groups self-regenerate as members become group leaders and facilitators
• Groups are practical and foolproof course in methods of life long repentance
• Relieves all but the core priesthood burdens from the bishop – huge time saver
• Serves large numbers of members with a minimum investment of priesthood talent
• Constantly reinforces our need for activity in the church and reliance upon the atonement of the savior

Most important thing you can do in the program is apply the 12 steps in you own life
Example: These are the things I’ve struggle with and through the program I’ve found help with…
Worst thing you can do is say something in the directive “You” voice instead of “I.”

Tonight’s Topic: Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of yourself
Notes: on slides
#21 in the church participants often times don’t show outward resentment but to some extent participants don’t take responsibility for their actions to some extent
Often times we don’t admit to places where we are wrong.
#22 start to get glimpses of yourself and the self-deceptions begin to fall away
• Resentments, people I hold resentments against: family, friends, neighbors, institutions, etc.
• Selfishness/self-interest
• Dishonesty
• Fear
• Sexual relationship behaviors – by the time you get to this part, the Lord has taken away a lot of self deceptions and fears. By the time you get here, you should be ready for this part.
This is a big project and exhausting both emotionally and spiritually. But with God’s help, we can see ourselves clearly.


How do the 2 spreadsheets relate to each other?
Answer: Sheet 1 lists people and incidents that come to mind that have a negative thought in 10 words or less

I’ve been a member of Alanon for several years and they use sponsors to help people do an inventory, how does the church want us to assist people? Do we wait until they come to us or do we go to them?
Answer: Referred to website for conference of last year that tells what the support in recovery consists of. Tells how to sponsor and what to sponsor. If you feel comfortable sponsoring people you can go to them but you have to make a disclaimer that you don’t represent the Church. You also open yourself to sponsoring a lot of people. It needs to be done with a little bit of caution because you can be overwhelmed if everyone wants you to be their sponsor.

If it takes 2 years to write you inventory, that’s a lot of 12 week cycles. What is the relationship between the 12 week cycle and the 2 years?
Answer: It’s like the layers of an onion. The more you go through, the deeper you go. The process continues. Repentance is a lifelong process. Step 10 things happen to us daily. I’ve gone to meetings for 24 years. It’s not once around, twice around or 4 times around. It’s something I’m still working on.

In your list where do self-harm issues come in? Where are they addressed?
Answer: We have a group leader in the Boston Area who was into cutting herself. The cause is still based on fear. She would look into herself and family and eventually she would get to the point of how to react to them? "I got depressed, I acted out, and I cut myself so I could move the pain I felt on the inside to the pain I feel on the outside." All addictions come from a basic lack of faith: they are based on a fear of some sort. As you go through the steps, you gain insights and things slowly begin to fall away. All of the behaviors are symptoms of underlying causes. The process to change is the same.

The spreadheets and PowerPoint presentation are available from Brother McPhee.

Testimonies from Elder Gordon Fletcher, outgoing Pittsburgh PA Regional Coordinator, and Ed and Debbie Greenwald, incoming coordinators.

Closing Prayer: Brother Cloud

Deseret Recipes

Sister Barb Lefler of the Pittsburgh 2nd Ward makes the following suggestion to help promote menu-driven orders from the bishops' storehouse:

One idea to make this easier on the family and to assist the Relief Society presidents teach the menu concept is to have a few Deseret Recipes cook books on hand. Most of the recipes can be made from storehouse food. That way there is a baseline of ideas to menu creation.

Great idea, Sister Lefler!

Deseret Recipes is available from the Church Distribution Center.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

"Charities struggle to stock pantries"

"Demand is so great, some food banks turn people away." So reported the December 5-11 issue of the Pittsburgh Business Times. Continuing, the article reported, "The number of people seeking food handouts in western Pennsylvania is up sharply in recent months." Stake and district presidents can respond to such needs by requesting humanitarian food orders of up to $1,000 from the bishops' storehouse. Priesthood and Relief Society leaders will want to be alert to needs for food in their communities that the Church can help to meet. The Lord has blessed the Church abundantly, making it possible for us to share with those who are not as fortunate.

The Arbor - December 2008

The December issue of The Arbor includes two stirring testimonies of the power of the Savior's Atonement to bring those who repent into the light of a new life. In both cases the Addiction Recovery Program played a significant role.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Menu-driven Bishop's Orders

Following is a "best practice" recommendation from Elder and Sister Reed, our area welfare specialists, who have now toured and inspected bishops' storehouses throughout the East Coast of the U.S. Following Elder and Sister Reed's recommendation will help those who receive assistance from the bishops' storehouse to become more self-reliant, which is one of the important goals of the Lord's welfare program.

"We know that Bishops and Relief Society Presidents are busy and that orders are frequently given less attention than they deserve. These are sacred funds, after all. The most elegant solution is the menu-driven Bishop’s Commodity Order. We have never seen a menu driven order that was unreasonable. Relief Society Presidents should see that patrons are taught how to do a menu and ask for a menu for every food order. Bishops should require a menu be attached to every order they sign."

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Val Merrell's Food Storage Docs

Valerie Merrell of the Pittsburgh Seventh Ward, Pittsburgh PA Stake, has lots of good advice on getting started with home storage, along with tips and recipes for longer-term storage. Check out her documents: BEANS, GETTING STARTED, LONGER-TERM FOOD STORAGE RECIPES, LONGER-TERM FOOD STORAGE TIPS, and WATER.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Using the Home Storage Center

Elder and Sister Kesweder, the new managers of the Home Storage Center in Brecksville, Ohio, offer the following advice on how to work with the Center to meet your long-term home storage goals:

1. Download and complete the order form.

2. After you get your order together, e-mail the Center and request a date to come to the Center. (It could be 2-4 weeks to get all the items you want)

3. We are trying to have sufficient stock on hand to handle most orders sooner. You can check with us to see if we have what you need.

4. The cannery is open by appointment only. Call: Elder and Sister Kesweder at 330-724-4674 or send e-mail.

5. We can set up an appointment for ward, family or individual canning. Most canning has been done on Saturdays in the past, but we are willing to open the Center weekdays, mornings and evenings if that will work better for you. Just let us know when you would like to come.

6. You need to bring enough workers to get your canning done. 5 – 6 workers per 100 cans is a good number workers to bring to help you can your order.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Disaster Response Domains

When agencies in Pittsburgh mobilized to respond to the disaster of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans they organized their response around 15 domains:

  • behavioral health
  • child care
  • communications
  • durable goods
  • employment
  • food
  • housing and utilities
  • insurance
  • legal services
  • leisure activities
  • medical services
  • schooling
  • spiritual and bereavement services
  • transportation
  • translation services

These would be helpful dimensions to consider both in emergency preparation and response.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Arbor - November 2008

November 1, 2008

Dear Priesthood and Relief Society Leaders:

The Church has implemented an Addiction Recovery Program (ARP) sponsored by LDS Family Services. ARP is designed to help those who might be struggling with an addiction, or associated with someone who does. ARP adapts the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous into a framework of the doctrines, principles and beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The Detroit office of LDS Family Services has led the implementation of this wonderful program within Michigan and western Pennsylvania. Over the last three years, it has commissioned over 30 ARP support groups. These groups are helping people change their lives and overcome their addictions through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

One feature of this great program is The Arbor, a newsletter that provides a forum for people to share stories of their recovery. It also includes other news and information.

Please take a few moments and read the touching stories in the November issue. Please also share this with your ward or branch councils, and others in your unit who might benefit from hearing more about this wonderful program.

May the Lord continue to bless you in your service.

Annette Lillrose
ARP Program Coordinator
LDS Family Services – Michigan Agency

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Working with the Bishops' Storehouse

Elder and Sister Bublik, outgoing managers of the Brecksville OH Bishops' Storehouse, gave an excellent presentation to bishops and Relief Society presidents tonight on working effectively with the storehouse. Following are a few notes from the meeting, though I can't begin to reproduce the spirit of the meeting.

Elder and Sister Beaudin will begin serving as the new storehouse managers in early November.

1. Work Assignments

As in past years, assignments for our region will be in the summer months. Wards and branches should assign at least four individuals to work. Assignments begin at 9 A.M., though the managers recognize that due to the long distances involved our people may arrive a bit late. The goal is to end by 2 P.M., but the ending time is determined by when the work gets done. The storehouse serves lunch to workers, from the food products the storehouse supplies.

An assignment to work in the storehouse is a great teaching and learning opportunity. Ideal candidates to serve are priesthood and Relief Society leaders who will benefit by understanding the workings of the storehouse; recipients of goods from the storehouse, who will have the opportunity to give to others through serving there; and youth of YM/YW age and older, who can supply needed energy and will learn about how the Church cares for the poor and needy.

2. Completing Bishops' Orders

The storehouse needs to receive orders by about 10 days before the delivery date, to have time to purchase perishable items. The preferable way to submit orders is by mail. When orders need to be faxed (because there is an emergency and they are late) bishops should send the original order by mail on the same day. (The originals go to the main storehouse in Indianapolis for inventory and accounting purposes.)

Send orders to:
Brecksville Ohio Welfare Bishops' Storehouse
6900 Southpointe Parkway, Unit C
Brecksville, OH 44141
fax 440-838-4228
phone 440-526-4001

Order forms older than 2005 are out of date and should be discarded. Do not photocopy order forms; original forms are required. Dry soup mix has been discontinued, though it still appears on the current form.

Delivery address at the top of the form is the location where the truck delivers (e.g., Green Tree, Cranberry, Ashtabula, etc.) and not the home address of a welfare recipient. Be sure to highlight the delivery address if there may be confusion (e.g., in a ward where members may pick up food more than one location, say, Cranberry or Green Tree).

Please pay attention to whether items are ordered in individual units or pounds. For example, potatoes (10# bag), carrots (1# bag), apples and oranges (3# bags) are ordered by the pound, not the bag.

Four types of bread are available: white, whole wheat, hot dog buns, and hamburger buns. One loaf/bag is considered a unit. When ordering bread put the total number of units in the box, then detail in the notes what kinds of bread are wanted.

3. Humanitarian Donations

Bishops and branch presidents can work with their stake or district presidents to request up to $1,000 of food for a local tax-exempt organization, such as a food bank, shelter, pantry, or the like. A bishop or branch president may learn about an organization's need from a member or another source. If he feels the Church can help meet the need he can approach the organization to learn more.

The organization needing the donation should make a written request, including its 501(c)(3) tax exemption number. The bishop or branch president should work with the organization to complete the Humanitarian Storehouse Items form (rather than the standard Bishop's Order), specifying a few items that are most needed and assigning priorities. He then sends the request to his stake or district president. (Use the $1,000 Humanitarian cover ltr. form.) If the president concurs he sends the order with his recommendation to the agent stake president (Pres. Titera of the Cleveland OH Stake) for his approval, who in turn sends the order to the storehouse to fill. The storehouse can deliver the humanitarian donation on its normal delivery schedule. The organization should arrange to pick up the donation at the delivery location. See "$1,000 Humanitarian Storehouse Guidelines" for more details.)

The Church encourages bishops to request humanitarian donations of food from the storehouse to meet legitimate community needs.

Elder and Sister Bublik bore fervent testimony of the blessings they have received from serving in the storehouse and of the truthfulness of the restored gospel. Thank you, Elder and Sister Bublik, for your faithful service to the Pittsburgh PA Welfare Region.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Arbor - October 2008

The October issue of The Arbor, published by Annette Lillrose, Addiction Recovery Program Coordinator for LDS Family Services, features insights from individuals the program has blessed and a helpful list of Addiction Recovery Program meetings throughout our welfare region, along with contact information.

Quit Smoking Now

The Pennsylvania Department of Health has a Web page that can connect individuals who want to quit smoking with resources to help them. Included is a map of the counties of Pennsylvania. Clicking on a county brings up a list of agencies in the county that offer smoking cessation services, including counseling and structured assistance to quit.

Voluntary Organizations

In September the U.S. Government Accountability Office published an interesting report on the place of voluntary organizations in responding to disasters. The description of the Red Cross's role was particularly interesting: "The Red Cross is realigning its regional chapters to better support its local chapters and improve efficiency and establishing new partnerships with local community-based organizations. Most recently, however, a budget shortfall has prompted the organization to reduce staff and alter its approach to supporting FEMA and state emergency management agencies."

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Preparedness Testimony from Texas

Elder Jan Hintze of the Ridgway Branch, serving with his wife as a full-time missionary in Alaska, sent the following testimony from a friend in Texas:

"We have a 6'x6' hole in our roof, no electricity or running water, Trees down everywhere. However, because we listened to the counsel of our Prophet we are prepared.

"There is a POD or Point of Distribution in Tomball where we live. There you get water and ice IF you have enough fuel to wait in the 3-hour lines. We don't have to do that because we have 3 full water barrels, 75 juice bottles filled with water, and our pool, which is dirty, but we use it to flush.

"It is very difficult to get gas. Police guard the stations when fuel is delivered and you might wait half a day to get up to the p ump just to have them say, 'Too bad, we are out.'

"The ATM machines do not have power. For the past 6 months I have stashed small bills away because I have had such a feeling of foreboding. We have cash because of that. LISTEN TO THE SPIRIT. Get cash in small bills because the stores can't make change and credit and debit cards often don't work. I had to pay 5 dollars more for an item because they couldn't make change for me.

"I have such a testimony of following the counsel of our living prophet. There really is safety and peace in your heart if you are prepared. It's overwhelming, but it's going to be okay eventually. I have a home, I have food, and I have water, because I listened to the counsel of the prophet."

Friday, October 3, 2008

Quilts and Kits

Elder Gary and Sister Sandy Reed, Area Welfare Specialists for the entire North America Northeast Area, sent along the following advice to Relief Societies today:

"Over the past few weeks we have gotten several request to ship Relief Society projects to Salt Lake (quilts, hygiene kits, etc.).

"We love that the Relief Society has a 'Welfare Heart,' but there is a better way to handle these things than to pay to ship them to Salt Lake, have them inspected to make sure that they fit the guidelines, store them, and then pay to ship them right back to us when we have an emergency.

"Our first choice in the Eastern States would be for the Relief Society to have in mind a LOCAL agency that would benefit from their project and that gifting would help build good relationships in the community.

"Our second choice would be to check with us and see if there is a project in the works that would benefit from their help. For example, we have a burning need for school kits just now. We could use thousands of them. We need baby quilts; we can place all that we could get. We need hygiene kits always.

"Full-sized quilts are hard to place sometimes. Think about it. People in shelters sleep on cots. Most disasters happen in the warmer months and warmer places where quilts are just not needed. It may be more fun to make beautiful quilts and if that's the case, give them locally to someone who will cherish them."

These guidelines will be good to keep in mind when Relief Societies are looking for projects they can undertake for humanitarian aid.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Lights Out

Stake President George Rosenberg of the Pittsburgh North Stake recently wrote with the following question:

"During the weekend of the storm word got back to us that there was not any severe damage to members' homes, etc. The only problem was the power outage. A few of our people had generators with fuel, wood stoves, etc., but we don't see that as a solution for the majority of our members who just didn't have electricity through no fault of their own. Any ideas? I have thought about encouraging propane tank/grill use at least for cooking, oil lamps for light, etc. that can be stored easily (without having a fire hazard such as gasoline stored around the house/garage). Anything else come to mind that would be appropriate for this area?"

In response I wrote, "Charcoal grills are definitely one option we would use for cooking, and fortunately this didn't happen during the winter, when heating systems would be compromised. In that case we would turn to our wood stove. For light we rely on a lantern (from Radio Shack) that we can crank and that also will charge a cell phone and has a radio receiver."

But what other ideas are out there? How did you prepare for the lights to be out?

Joseph Tenney

Brother Joseph D. Tenney, a therapist with LDS Family Services and a graduate of BYU with a master's degree in social work, is traveling to the Pittsburgh Region monthly to provide therapy for members of the Church, to manage LDS Family Services' adoption program, and to oversee the work of part-time therapists under contract with LDS Family Services. I met with Brother Tenney earlier this week. He is cheerful, pleasant and capable. While we will miss Sister Kathie Schofields' regular visits, she appears to be leaving us in good hands.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Arbor - September 2008 Issue

Sister Annette Lillrose, Addiction Recovery Program coordinator Detroit agency of LDS Family Services (which includes the Pittsburgh PA Welfare Region) publishes an occasional electronic newsletter called The Arbor. The September issue includes an illuminating comparison of addiction to a case of poison ivy, Elder Mark Geherin's list of individuals the Addiction Recovery Program has blessed in Pittsburgh, a list of meetings and contacts, and review of the Twelve Steps to recovery. Individuals can subscribe to receive The Arbor by e-mail.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Ham in a Day

Some stakes, districts, wards and branches are using an approach called "Ham in a Day" to train ham (amateur) radio operators for emergency preparedness. The Church recommends that "A reliable emergency communication system should be in place [in wards and stakes] if regular telephone or cell phone service fails." Ham radio is such a system. The tag line for "Ham in a Day " is "Join us for a day of instruction, take the test [which costs $14], and leave a HAM!" Actually, some advanced preparation is also required, in addition to a qualified ham instructor to teach the course and three hams who can serve as FAA examiners for the test—but many Church congregations count hams or know or can recruit hams in the community. Perhaps there are stakes, the district, wards or branches out there in our region that would be interested in taking this approach to establish a communication system for emergencies.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

"Skilled Trades Seek Workers"

A story by Anton Troianovski in The Wall Street Journal of August 19 (B1, 4) reported on the shortage of welders, pipe fitters, electricians and similar workers needed in the energy and manufacturing industries. Also in demand are project managers, construction managers and schedulers for heavy industrial jobs. "Such shortfalls are forcing some employers to delay projects and others to pay their workers higher wages or offer more overtime. . . . Skilled-labor shortages are likely to intensify in coming years as more workers retire and the economy picks up again." One construction-industry consulting firm projects that demand for electricians, masons and pipe fitters will exceed supply by 5% nationwide four years from now. A number of unions, community colleges and other schools are developing training and apprenticeship programs to meet the growing need. See, for example, YouTube videos Aaron, Brian Couch, and West_Side_3, created for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the National Electrical Contractors Association.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Success Stories from the Addiction Recovery Program

I asked Elder Mark Geherin, who recently completed two years of service as Addiction Recovery Program coordinator in our region, to compile a report of those who have benefitted from participating in the program in the Pittsburgh PA and Pittsburgh PA North Stakes since the program first began here two years ago. Following is his report:

Here is the list people and their progress that happened in conjunction with the Addiction Recovery Program. These include people I've personally dealt with in the Oakland and McKeesport meetings. Others are from various wards throughout the Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh North Stakes:
  • brother, smoking and drinking issues, baptized, confirmed and progressed to Aaronic Priesthood. He also had his son baptized and confirmed. currently not attending church
  • brother, drinking and pornography issues, progressed to Melchizedek Priesthood, endowed, and church service missionary. currently active in church
  • brother, smoking issues, baptized, confirmed and progressed to Aaronic Priesthood. currently active in church
  • brother, smoking and drug issues, baptized, confirmed, progressed to Aaronic Prieshood. currently not attending church
  • brother, pornography issues, progressed to high priest. currently active in church
  • brother, anger issues, baptized, confirmed progressed to Melchizedek Priesthood, received patriarchal blessing. preparing for endowment and sealing. currently active in church
  • brother, smoking issues, currently serving a full-time mission. currently active in church
  • brother, smoking and pornography issues, had temple recommend restored, sealed in DC temple. currently active in church
  • sister, drinking issue, received temple recommend and progressed to be sealed in DC temple. currently active in church
  • sister, smoking issue, visited DC temple and her son is preparing to leave on his mission. currently active in church
  • sister, smoking issue, baptized and confirmed. successfully abstinent. currently active in church
  • sister, drug issue, baptized, confirmed patriarchal blessing endowed and church service missionary. currently active in church
  • sister, depression issue, baptized confirmed, patriarchal blessing. preparing for endowment and sealing in the DC temple. currently active in church
  • sister, smoking issue, baptized and confirmed, visited DC temple. currently active
  • sister, drug issue, baptized and confirmed, currently active in church
  • sister, smoking issue, baptized and confirmed, currently active in church
  • brother, sex issue, progressed to high priest, currently active in church
  • brother, drinking and sex issue, reactivated and baptized and confirmed his son. currently active in church
  • sister, drug issue, baptized and confirmed, currently not attending church
  • sister, sex issue, currently working toward reinstatement.
  • brother, pornography/sex issues. had his temple recommend reinstated. currently active in church
  • sister, smoking and anxiety issues, baptized and confirmed
I hereby do testify that all these people and their stories are real and true, based on my current knowledge. Their examples do testify of Heavenly Father glorifying himself through our trials, that Jesus Christ lives and is aware of all his children, especially those gone astray. I do also testify that the Addiction Recovery Program is led by the Holy Ghost and the happenings in conjunction prove that the Addiction Recovery Program is one of the most effective tools the Church has to reach and retain some of God's most burdened children. I write these words in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Elder Mark Geherin

Monday, August 4, 2008

Addiction Recovery in the News


Following is the first paragraph of a news article the Church put up today on to explain the origins, purposes and successes of the Addiction Recovery Program:

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah - When Jeff (not his real name), an addiction recovery facilitator, sits down with people struggling with addictions, he doesn't tell them what to do. Instead, he shares what has helped him to recover from his own debilitating addictions and to stay sober one day at a time.

See more.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Employment Tips for Summer

Susan Shafkalis of the Detroit office of LDS Employment Support Services shares the following thoughts about finding employment in the summer:

Have you found that while the summer season has kicked into high gear many job searches have slowed to an idle or even a full stop? Think that practically everyone, including hiring managers, is in vacation mode from Memorial Day through Labor Day? Think again. According to Monster Resume Expert Kim Isaacs, few people take long vacations anymore, so for the corporate world it's business as usual in the summer. Many projects hit the ground running in the fall, and employers want new people in place.

Here are 3 tips to help keep your clients' job searches moving forward when the mercury rises:
  1. Capitalize on Seasonal Events: Use personal and social gatherings like festivals, barbecues and weddings to let people know you are looking. Expand your network while you are on that walk, bike ride, at the ice cream shop, the pool, etc. Everyone is out and about. Say "Hi!" and introduce yourself.
  2. Take Stock of Your Resume and Skills: Take a class or two in the summer (don't forget to network with your classmates) to brush up on any skills that may be lagging. Have you assessed and updated your resume lately?
  3. Don't Get Discouraged: Vacation schedules may make reaching the right people challenging but be patient and consistent; leave polite messages. The good news is that the gatekeepers take vacations too so you may connect with that hard-to-reach hiring manager while your competitors are waiting until September!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Debt Trap

The New York Times recently ran a series of articles entitled "The Debt Trap: A series about the surge in consumer debt and the lenders who made it possible." Along with articles are interactive displays that explain how as a nation we got into the amount of debt we now carry, an average of $118,000 per household. The focus of the series is not on how to get out of debt (the Church offers better help with this); rather, it explains the motives and methods of the financial institutions that encourage people to take on debt. Beware!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Famers' Markets and Local Food Production

Don Gibbon, formerly of the Pittsburgh 7th Ward, contributed this on farmers' markets and buying local food:

"You may be interested in this excellent list of Farmer's Markets in Allegheny County, the best list I know of for our area, from Just Harvest. It also shows how low-income folks can use the markets with stamps and other forms of assistance and list buses to get to markets.

"The PA Association for Sustainable Agriculture, with which I am deeply involved, also lists farmers markets around the entire state. There's a free monthly newsletter on all this stuff!"

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Emergency Lighting

Don Gibbon, formerly of the Pittsburgh 7th Ward, contributed the following:

"Tuesday evening at 11 P.M. all the lights for about ten blocks around went out. We got out our hand-cranked radio and flashlights and candles and began running through the options: what to do now? Go to bed, but first check out the neighborhood. When we went outside the only lights we could see were small, bright solar-charged LEDs on a new alarm company's signs in front of our house and several neighbors' who'd bought into the new program too. I took the lights inside to put by the stairs and in the bathroom, just the ticket!

"The power came back on and in the morning I checked to see how and where those little lights were made. They contain a rechargeable AA battery, a solar cell and a solar sensor to make them come on at night and go off during the day—perfect for an emergency light with a manual on-off switch instead. They're made by Litewatch. This small one for alarm signs appears to be their only product, though I've written them to see if they have anything slightly larger.

"In the meantime, I'd done some nosing around and discovered a solar battery charger with a few other accessories, for only $40 this month on sale. I ordered one. I've got a couple of 110 V chargers, but they obviously would be worthless in a power outage. The solar one seems almost fool proof, if such a thing is possible. Now I need to covert as much as I can to LED lighting and I'll have it whipped into pretty good shape."

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Addiction Recovery Program Conference

Saturday's 2008 Addiction Recovery Program Conference was a great success. Kathie Schofield, director of LDS Family Services' Detroit MI agency, and Sister Annette Lillrose, a Church-service missionary who serves as agency coordinator for the Addiction Recovery Program, came from Michigan to lead and provide training at the conference.

In the morning we listened to a recorded broadcast of the 2008 conference, held June 21 in Salt Lake City.

Larry Crenshaw, acting director of LDS Family Services summarized the first three of the 12 steps in the Addiction Recovery Program in the words, 1. I can't. 2. He can. 3. I will let Him.

Lili deHoyos Anderson spoke of the importance of the law of the fast in overcoming addiction: "Power comes when we harness the flesh."

Dean Byrd said, "Your addictions do not determine who you are, but your response determines what you will become." He also taught, "Let your vision of the positive alternative be clearer than the addiction. . . . We are spiritual beings having human experience."

Sister Lillrose taught that Addiction Recovery Program facilitators should:
1. Lead by example: "I must have a testimony of my own healing."
2. Let the Spirit do the teaching: "I have been called so that the Spirit can do the teaching. There must be no put-downs." Those who participate must feel safe in the meeting.
3. Teach in parables: "Share my healing as a parable of healing."
4. Love those who participate.

We watched a (real) model Addiction Recovery Program meeting, then listened to a commentary on the meeting that underlined important principles of successful meetings.

President Brennen Murray of the Pittsburgh PA Stake concluded the conference by testifying that there is no limit to what the Savior can do to heal.

Group leaders and facilitators from throughout the Pittsburgh PA and Pittsburgh PA North Stakes attended the conference and left with greater understanding of the true principles that will help them carry out the program as the Lord intends.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Paul Peacock of the Cranberry Ward has developed an awesome list of you-pick gardens and orchards in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania. Check out the list, and enjoy some of this summer's fresh fruit and other produce!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Web Sites for At-Home Jobs

Sue Shellenbarger's column in this today's Wall Street Journal (D1) gave hints on finding legitimate home-based work. "As gasoline prices soar and joblessness mounts, the nonstop stream of email I get from readers wanting work from home is rising, too. Also multiplying are the online scam artists who seek to profit on that desire." I recommend the column to anyone who wants this kind of employment. Shellenbarger lists the following sites that provide information on finding trustworthy at-home work opportunities: (Click on "For Consumers"),, and (type "work at home scam" in the search box). The article has information on several other useful sites for different kinds of work.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Emergency Preparedness & Response Web Pages

The Church has put up a new channel on its Provident Living Web site called Emergency Preparedness and Response. Though most of the information on the site isn't new, it's well organized and easy to find. It's also very basic, meaning that it is adapatable to many different situations. What is new is the information on pandemics, including the video from BYU-Idaho on prevention of Avian flu.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Reid's One-month Storage Plan

My friend Reid Reading (single adult, counselor in the Pittsburgh 7th Ward bishopric) wrote me the following musings on storing food for a month. I endorse his approach:

". . . create a system . . . as a cushion against hard times and allow families to continue to be nourished pretty much as they have been accustomed. The family would simply buy 1) an additional item of a nonperishable grocery good at each market visit, 2) keep track of the kind and amount of perishable items consumed in a month, and make sure to have a month's supply of these substitutes."

Reid notes the need for water. The goal is a supply for two weeks, at one gallon per person per day, that is, 14 gallons per person.

"In my case, I think I could survive for a month with a huge supply of mild salsa, Tums (even so), water, juices that don't expire for a month from when I might need to start using them, several boxes of Raisin Bran (they seem to be on sale frequently–too much supply?) or other dry cereal, powdered milk and eggs, a pinch of salt and other condiments, canned vegetables (except spinach–can anyone bear this??) many cans of BLACK beans specifically, some olive oil–not sure for what, Costco-sized containers of dry-roasted unsalted peanuts, pecans, and other nuts (except walnuts, which give me canker sores), big containers of dried fruits, natural peanut butter (Smuckers is good), and huge numbers of Hersheys' five-ounce dark chocolate bars. (These, by the way, are already on hand.) Although most of these things last for some time, proper attention must be given to rotating in and out.

"I checked the basic food groups, and think I have them covered, and now would have to consider quantities. But please, what am I missing? At any rate, insofar as this is any good at all, it has been helpful to me."

Way to go, Brother Reading. Each family should identify and store what they actually enjoy eating, paying attention to nutritional requirements, and rotate so that the supply stays fresh.

Friday, June 6, 2008

1 Month of Food Storage - R.S. Helps

Engage the Relief Society to promote food storage. The Brethren have counseled us to begin with one week of storage and build to a month. What does one month of food storage look like?

The R.S. presidency in the Pittsburgh North Stake answered that question. They created menus for a month of meals, translated the menus into a shopping list, and then wrote recipes for the meals they suggested. See their one-month overview, menu plan, recipes, blank menu plan, blank shopping plan, and blank weekly shopping list.

Your family may like different meals. Fine. But by making a month of menus and translating those meals into a shopping list you can make sure you will have food your family will enjoy eating as you rotate your home storage.

Your Relief Society may choose to modify the Pittsburgh North Stake's materials. No problem. But consider following their example and engaging your Relief Society to help families change the vague concept of a month's worth of food into a specific set of commodities that they are going to buy and put aside.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Entrepreneurs' Growth Conference

Some folks work for others; some are self-employed, or want to be. Every year Duquesne University holds an Entrepreneurs' Growth Conference for those who fall in the latter category—to "empower entrepreneurs" who are "building businessses." It is the biggest conference of its type in the Pittsburgh region. This year's conference is on June 5. The conference features "dozens of workshops & live demonstrations, a business-building trade show, networking opportunities, and lots of workshops for every type of business." In the interest of full disclosure, I work for Duquesne University.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tornados in the Region

Today's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that among cities with populations over 100,000 Pittsburgh is the 7th most tornado-prone. PA is the 17th most tornado-prone state, averaging about 20 tornadoes per year. Westmoreland and Crawford Counties are the hot spots. The height of the tornado season in our region is from mid-May to mid-June. The worst tornado ever to hit our region killed 76 people as it ripped through northeastern OH and northwestern PA on May 31, 1985.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Home Storage Order Form

The Church is still urging the Saints to store a year's supply of food, three months' worth of the things you normally eat and a nine-month supply of commodities that have a long storage life. These are the commodities available from the Home Storage Center. The Church has now made available a home storage order form to assist you in planning your purchases. The form lists the commodities available and their current prices. The form automatically tallies the cost as you enter items on the form. Some commodities are also available by mail from the Distribution Center. Home storage will give you peace of mind. Consider using any tax refund you may get to build up your home storage.

Grocery Shopping for the Needy

Some wards and branches don't receive deliveries from the bishops' storehouse. Even for some that do there are times when a need can't wait for a bishop's order from the storehouse. In such cases groceries may need to be purchased locally. The following ideas on ways to accomplish this came out of the March 25 Relief Society Welfare Forum:

1. Use a credit card to make the purchases, then turn in the receipt for reimbursement.
2. Set up an account at a grocery store that will bill the ward or branch. This may be possible only at smaller, family-owned stores.
3. Prepare a shopping list, perhaps using the bishops' order form, then have the needy family make their own purchases, using a credit card and returning the receipt for reimbursement and comparison with the approved list.
4. As appropriate, and with proper cautions to preserve confidentiality, delegate shopping to a counselor or a home or visiting teacher.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

OSU Extension's Financial Resources

When we were in MT this last week visiting our daughter she showed me resources on financial management from the MT State Extension Service. I wondered if similar resources existed from the extension services in the three states represented in our region. I checked, and found outstanding resources available from the Ohio State University Extension. "Keeping Track of Spending," "Manage Your Money," and "Some Option$ for Re$ourceful Living" are especially good. Check them out.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Still More from the Home Storage Center

Sister Marjorie Salem, Director of the Brecksville OH Home Storage Center, wrote on May 4 that "the Church has instituted a new policy whereby only someone who can run the cash register (Home Storage Center workers) can let anyone purchase any cannery items. " In the past, when wards and branches from our region have had assignments to work in the bishops' storehouse, they have also been able to return with items from the Home Storage Center. This is no longer the case. "It is too much responsibility to ask the storehouse staff to do this job.

"Also, because of the rush and the enormous demand we have been getting for food storage during the last 2-3 months, we are booking appointments now in late July/early August. Please understand we are booking multiple wards at the same times. One Saturday we had 8 wards at the cannery, and we still can't keep up with the rush."

"[At present] I only have 3 items left. We are completely out of everything except hot cocoa, fruit punch mix and onions. It has been so crazy lately that we have to pre-order everyone's order 6-8 weeks ahead of time to get it on the following month's truck. We only get one delivery per month—example: I would have to order food during the first week in May for delivery during the 3rd week of June. They have been sending a semi truck and between the storehouse and Home Storage Center we are at the weight limit and they can't send any more cannery items. Once the pre-ordered items are set aside, I am generally out of everything else within 10 days. I won't be working again this week at the cannery because I am out of everything and our next truck doesn't come until May 16th, and then the rush starts. (Basically, I have been scheduling appointments around the truck delivery times.)"

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bentonville AK Preparedness Fair

Last Saturday the Church in Bentonville, Arkansas hosted a preparedness fair that involved 75 sponsors and 50 booths, twice as large as the fair they sponsored last year, as reported in the Sunday edition of the Benton County Daily Record. It reminded me of the successful fair the Wintersville OH Ward (Pittsburgh PA Stake) in our own region hosted last year, but on a larger scale, involving many local resources and sponsors, from both government and business. Is this something that anyone in the Pittsburgh Welfare Region would be interested in taking on?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Employment Resources

Don't forget the resources available from the Detroit office of LDS Employment Resource Services, under the able direction of Bro. Doug Mallory. See or call the office at 1-888-LDS-JOBS. Bro. Mallory can give job-seekers access to password-controlled job lists on the Web for which his office maintains a subscription.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Pandemic Flu Video

King County (Washington) recently released an informative video that describes the nature of the challenges we would face in a flu pandemic. Elder Gary Reed, Area Welfare Specialist, writes that "Many experts say that a pandemic flu is not an an 'if' but a 'when.' The video is for information only. The Church is busy working on this challenge and we anticipate further instruction in the coming months. The video is well done and may stimulate your thinking and help you as you consider sharing the need to prepare for this type of emergency." I recommend watching it.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Addiction Recovery Handbook

The Church's Addiction Recovery Program: A Guide to Addiction Recovery and Healing can be used either in an organized addiction recovery group or by individuals working alone. Or, what can also be very effective, people may work through the book as companions, say a visiting teacher and someone she visits, or just two good friends who live across the street from one another. The idea of working in groups or a companions is to give people the support that can be so essential in overcoming addictive behavior, but that support can come without an organized addiction recovery group.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Bishops' Orders by E-mail

Bishops can now send food orders to the Brecksville OH Bishops' Storehouse by e-mail. The address is As with faxed orders, the bishop must follow up by sending the signed paper order form by surface mail.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Benson Institute

The Ezra Taft Benson Agriculture and Food Institute and Corporation, which began at BYU in 1975, has now merged into the Church's Welfare Services Department. The Institute's Web site includes lessons on basic family health, family nutrition and family sanitation, particularly directed at conditions in the developing world, but also relevant to conditions of poverty in the U.S. The Web site also includes interesting resources on raising food for families.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

BYU Personal Finance Lessons

BYU's Marriott School of Management has created a Web site to "assist in the creation of your own personal financial plan, complete with a budget, a debt-reduction strategy, and an investment program. The site addresses finance from a Latter-day Saint perspective and offers insight into how you can be a wise financial steward. It contains beginning, intermediate, and advanced courses about debt, credit, retirement planning, insurance, taxes, and more."

Friday, January 4, 2008

Western PA Prepared

The Pittsburgh Business Times reported today that western PA is "well prepared for a disaster such as a flood or a terrorist attack," citing a recently released report that gave PA a perfect score of 10, joining just six other states. "Western Pennsylvania has become a model for emergency preparedness nationwide because of collaboration among emergency management agencies."